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Jemele Hill Suspended after Tweets About Cowboys Owner

ESPN has suspended one of its hosts, Jemele Hill, after she posted a series of tweets pertaining to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who said players who demonstrate during the national anthem will be benched.

“If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” Jones said. “Understand? We will not … if we are disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period.”

Hill criticized Jones for putting some of his players in an uncomfortable spot and called on fans to take action.

ESPN posted a statement on Twitter, which referred to Hill’s previous tweets about President Donald Trump, calling the posts “impulsive.”

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines. She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers when the latter team knelt during the national anthem.

In a statement Monday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said the players’ actions are not disrespecting the flag.

“Last week both the Commissioner and the Chair of the NFL Management Council John Mara were clear when they assured our union leaders, in the presence of other owners, that they would respect the Constitutional rights of our members without retribution,” he said. “I look forward to the day when everyone in Management can unite and truly embrace and article what that Flag stands for: ‘Liberty and Justice for All’ instead of some of them just talking about standing. We look forward to continuing our talks with them on this very issue.”

A look at his own remarks.

Last month Hill called Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. Her words caught the attention of the White House: Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called Hill’s tweets “a fireable offense” at a subsequent press briefing.

Hill later said she regretted that her comments “painted ESPN in an unfair light.” But she stood by her remarks as her personal beliefs.

Trump on Tuesday attacked Hill on Twitter.

Some responded with criticism, both for the nature of his tweet and the fact that he perhaps has more important things he could devote his Twitter fingers to.

According to a new set of guidelines issued by ESPN earlier this year, “commentary related to political or social issues, candidates or office holders is appropriate on ESPN platforms.”

A subsequent list of guidelines suggests that such commentary pertains to sports whenever possible and to “avoid personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“Personal attacks” and “inflammatory rhetoric” are subjective terms, Patrick Stiegman shared in an interview with ESPN analyzing the guidelines. Stiegman is ESPN’s vice president of global digital content. He also serves as chairman of the company’s internal Editorial Board.

“There is always a layer of subjectivity in such areas,” Stiegman said. “Editors and producers will work with those offering opinions on these topics to ensure the dialogue and debate is thoughtful, respectful and as fair as possible.”

While not appearing to discipline Hill publicly after the Trump tweets, according to an exclusive from ThinkProgress, ESPN did try to keep Hill off the air after the incident. Several sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the outlet that Michael Smith, Hill’s SportsCenter co-host, refused to do the show without Hill, and the network could not find replacement hosts in time for the broadcast.

Some of the sources said that ESPN was ideally seeking Black hosts to do the show, but others said the network asked multiple people if they were available, including white anchors. Apparently not able to find a replacement, ESPN asked Hill to come back to do the show, and she and Smith appeared on air.

ThinkProgress also reported that ESPN denies that account of the day’s events.

“Yesterday was a hard and unusual day, with a number of people interpreting the day without a full picture that happened,” Rob King, SportsCenter SVP of news and information, shared with the outlet. “In the end, ultimately, Michael and Jemele appearing on the show last night and doing the show the way they did is the outcome we always desired.”

ESPN reported to ThinkProgress and other media outlets that they “never asked” anyone to fill in for Hill or Smith.


Black UFC Fighter Rescues Man with Confederate Flag from Harvey Floodwaters

“He wanted to take the flag with him, and he just apologized and said, ‘Man, I’ll sit in the back of your truck,’” Derrick Lewis said.

In an act of humanity during Hurricane Harvey, Houston resident and UFC heavyweight fighter Derrick Lewis used his Chevy truck to rescue residents trapped by rising floodwaters, but said he encountered a man who insisted on bringing along his Confederate battle flag — a symbol of the country’s legacy of slavery and racism.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Sunday that Harvey had caused up to $180 billion in damage, exceeding the cost of Hurricanes Sandy or Katrina. The most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years came ashore on Aug. 25.

It is estimated the storm has displaced more than 1 million residents, damaged more than 200,000 homes and killed at least 50 people. Hurricane Harvey stretched for more than 300 miles. The storm stalled over Houston, dumping more than 50 inches of rain on the region, causing massive flooding.

Lewis, the UFC’s No. 6-ranked heavyweight known as “The Black Beast,” responded to distress messages on social media and phone calls regarding people who were trapped. During one of his rescues on Aug. 27, he said he encountered a family with a father who did not want to part with his Confederate flag.

In an interview with MMA Junkie last week, Lewis said that despite that flag, he still wanted to help the man:

“I picked up one guy and his family, his wife — he just kept apologizing to me, because all he really had was his clothes, and he wanted to take his Confederate flag. He wanted to take that with him, and he just apologized and said, ‘Man, I’ll sit in the back of your truck, man. I don’t want to have my flag inside of your truck like this.’ I said, ‘Man, I’m not worried about that.’

“He’s saying, ‘You never know if you ever need someone, so …’ — I already knew where he was going with it. I just said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. It’s OK. I don’t care about that.’ His wife kept hitting him and saying, ‘You should have just left it.’”

Lewis also expressed in the interview that the sentiment behind the man’s reluctance to part with his flag is something he’s used to, having lived in the South all his life.

“I live in Texas,” Lewis told MMA Junkie. “It ain’t nothing new. I’ve been living in the South all my life, and it ain’t nothing I hadn’t seen before or discussed about. I don’t care about that type of stuff. I just wanted to help him.”

The man’s refusal to leave his flag actually coincides with a boom in Confederate flag sales following last month’s deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

In an interview with ESPN’s Sports Center last week, Lewis estimated that he has helped rescue more than 100 people.

He used social media to chronicle some of his rescues:

The UFC fighter also continues to deliver emergency items to flood victims:

In addition to the rescue efforts, Lewis tweeted that he would partner with the UFC to donate $10,000 to hurricane relief.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city expected most public services and businesses to be restored by Sept. 5.

“Over 95 percent of the city is now dry. And I‘m encouraging people to get up and let’s get going,” Turner told NBC News.

However, on Sunday, “Houston mandated the evacuation of thousands of people on the western side of town to accommodate the release of water from two reservoirs that otherwise might sustain damage,” according to Reuters.


Hall of Famer Hank Aaron Calls Out NFL for Not Signing Colin Kaepernick

In New York City on Wednesday, hundreds participated in a rally against the National Football League’s (NFL) alleged blackballing of Colin Kaepernick as a result of his national anthem protest and social activism.

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron has also come to Kaepernick’s defense, calling it a “raw deal” that the 29-year-old remains unsigned after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March and becoming a free agent.

Aaron, 83, is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He experienced intense racism in his early days in Major League Baseball, including spectators throwing rocks onto the field. In 1974, as a player for the Atlanta Braves, Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record (714). Whites who did not want a Black man to claim such an important record threatened his life and sent him hate mail.

According to CNN, in the early 1970s, Aaron received 990,000 letters, “so many that the U.S. Post Office gave him a plaque for receiving more mail than any other American (not including politicians).” Some wrote letters to congratulated him, while others made death threats.

Aaron talked to TV One’s Roland Martin and called out NFL owners for not signing Kaepernick to a team.

“I think he’s getting a raw deal,” Aaron said. “I’ve been watching pro ball for a long time, and I think that if you look at all of the quarterbacks in the league right now … I don’t think anybody can do the things [Kaepernick] can do.

“I just wish somebody would open up and give him a chance to do his thing.”

He said Kaepernick’s talents are being ignored.

“The thing that bothers me about this whole situation is the fact that he has gone to all these camps, and nobody thinks he stands a chance to be number one. Here’s a man, a young player who almost carried a team to a championship.”

NFL manager says teams will use Kaepernick as cautionary tale to prevent players "from doing what he did."

Aaron also said the decision not to hire Kaepernick is most likely coming from team owners, and not general managers.

In March, at a rally in Louisville, Ky., President Donald Trump, a staunch critic of the football player, boasted about a report, “Colin Kaepernick Sentenced To NFL Limbo for the Crime of Speaking His Mind,” which said some NFL owners were worried about receiving backlash from Trump if they hire Kaepernick.

“There was an article today, it was reported, that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” he said.

“I said, ‘If I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky — because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag,’” Trump said at the rally to promote the Republican Party’s answer to the Affordable Care Act.

Former President Barack Obama commented in September that Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional right by refusing to stand for the national anthem. But Obama added that the nature of the protest could make it hard for some to hear his message.

"If nothing else what he's done is he's generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about," the president said of NFL quarterback Kaepernick's decision to sit down during the national anthem.

In TV One’s interview, Martin asked Aaron his thoughts on Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality toward American Americans, adding, “It’s as if [the NFL] is saying, ‘We want you guys to just shut up and play ball,’” Martin said.

Aaron noted that times were much different for him growing up in Mobile, Ala., in the 1930s and 40s when being stopped by a police officer. There was no opportunity for a Black person to exercise his or her rights.

“To be honest with you, my mother told me when you get stopped by a cop, throw your hands down and that’s the end of it,” he said.

“But today, these kids are very smart now. They understand and know exactly what’s going on.”

Jackie Robinson, the first African American to integrate Major League Baseball, visited Aaron’s hometown in 1948. Robinson was his hero and inspired his career path. Aaron would eventually break barriers as Robinson did. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, finishing with a career total of 755 home runs.

Kaepernick met with the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the summer, but the team decided to go in a different direction. In July, the Baltimore Ravens also opted against signing him.

President Donald Trump, who recently admonished the ex-49ers quarterback at a rally, has presented a federal budget that could lead to de-funding of the program for seniors.

In the meantime, Kaepernick’s foundation has donated another $100,000 to three organizations — raising the total donations to $800,000 of his pledged $1 million.

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